Toyota agreed on Monday to pay $16.4 million in fines to the U.S. government for delaying the recall of 2.3 million vehicles with a defect that could trigger sudden acceleration. Toyota, however, denies that it broke any laws.
The agreement will most likely increase the number of pending lawsuits against the company in sudden acceleration claims and links to nearly 40 wrongful deaths. Toyota also faces additional fines by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The fine is the largest allowed under federal law. NHTSA has said that absent the federal cap, the automaker would have faced $13.8 billion in fines. NHTSA does have the ability to issue more fines, especially if it decides the problems with sticking pedals are two separate devices based on manufacturing changes made by the company.
NHTSA levied the fine this month after discovering Toyota informed dealers in Europe about sudden acceleration problems in September 2009, but did not launch a recall in the U.S. until January of this year. The agency also discovered that Toyota attempted to deal with the issue as far back as 2006.